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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  December 19, 2012 8:00am-9:00am PST

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teachers to carry guns in the classrooms. at the federal level the house speaker john boehner is urging republicans to quiet such talk down because passions are too high right now and doesn't want any federal legislators talking about arming teachers. it is certainly being talked about at the state level and that's why i brought up the question. i wanted to know what you thought. mixed response, over 1,500 responses. keep them coming. i try to read each and every one. thank you so much for joining me. i am carol costello. "cnn newsroom" continues with ashleigh banfield. this is the hour in the lang shadow of newtown, connecticut and everything happening in that tiny town. president obama and some democratic members of congress are attempting to turn tragedy and outrage and national heart break into policy instead. in about 45 minutes the president will name vice president joe biden to lead a
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government wide gun law reform initiative. in the meantime, the house minority leader nancy pelosi, and several of her colleagues are pushing right now to outlaw high capacity ammo clips and beef up security in schools. a few things are clear at the outset, a debate long dormant in this country is dormant no more. just like the pain from the massacre of innocents, the gun debate is not going to go away any time soon. dana bash is live on capitol hill. seems things are moving much faster he it white house. what is in the works right now? >> as you said we expect the president to come out and talk to reporters to officially tap joe biden, his vice president, for this role, very interesting role, to lead what is essentially being called an interagency look at what they can do post this horrible tragic shooting. not just with regard to
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potential new gun control measures but also with regard to mental health and other issues. he will be kind of scouring government agencies and leading a task force to do that and it is very interesting. he is kind of uniquely qualified to do that because of his work with i am on capitol hill, he of course was here for decades and decades as a senator from delaware and for almost 20 of those years he was either the chair or the ranking member of the senate judiciary committee and really at the forefront of many, many legislative pushes for the crime bill in 1994, the assault weapons ban, and he actually is somebody who knows how to legislate. once he is done with the federal agencies, he knows how to talk to democrats and republicans here on capitol hill to bring them together to come up with some kind of legislation potentially that could pass whether it is dealing with guns or mental health issues. >> that's what i want to get from you and maybe it is so early we don't know how broad the scope of this will be.
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is it fair to even ask whether this kind of initiative would include not only say the ban on assault weapons but also what you mentioned, the issue of addressing mental health and the services that are out there and the funds that are out there and the statewide agencies that are out there and also the gaming industry and hollywood and the entertainment industry. is this all going to be one big basket? >> like i said, just from having random conversations on capitol hill with senators, even the most conservative senators, and the most liberal senators, they all bring up all of those things you're talking about, even video games and concerned about the first amendment and not stomping on the first amendment is very real. there is this definitely no question has been something that has shakingen people to their core and asking questions about what should be allowed out there. it probably is too early to answer the question and my understanding is the president will say he won't announce policy moves today and that is the whole purpose of the task force the vice president is
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going to lead, but it is hard to imagine he is not going to look at all of those things that you just discussed because they're all very much involved and factored into this solution unspeakable tragedy. >> i think, dana, it bears showing the statement again that the nra issued just recently out of respect for the families and as a matter of common decency we have given time for mourning, prayer, and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. the nra is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again. i think a lot of people look to that last part of the statement and wondering what exactly that means. in the meantime do we know if the white house is reaching out to the gun lobby. >> that's a good question. those would be strange bed fellows to say the least. however, what is note worthy is that the gun lobby's biggest supporters here on capitol hill have also been very loudly quiet if you will.
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they have been very mum, taking the nra's lead or going along the same strategy with the n republican ra but in private conversations i have had with the biggest advocates of gun rights, it is very surprising to me how willing they seem to be to go much further and legislating whether it is banning those high capacity ammunition rounds or anything of the sort, much, much different in terms of tone and ten or. >> dana bash standing by live on capitol hill. thank you. also to our viewers, don't forget the president will speak leave at 45 minutes past the hour, 40 minimum fritz now and wolf blitzer will join for special live coverage. we'll cover that fully live for you. we to want take note of the president's selection as thy"ti magazine's person of the year. they're calling mr. obama the symbol and in some ways the
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architect of a new america. it is cover story also includes never before seen photos including one from just last sunday where the president is writing his newtown memorial speech and where he is sitting is poignant. he is watching sasha obama's ballet rehearsal or at least getting ready to anyway, and the story in the photographs are online now and they will hit the news stands on friday. as the white house and of course as president obama is dealing with the task of turning the unbearable loss into action on capitol hill n newtown, connecticut today there are four more funerals and another day of goodbyes to people and young ones that so many people love and this time it is 6-year-old charlotte bacon and caroline and daniel and victory soto.
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the visitation for the principal dawn hochsprung is also scheduled today, the latest funerals and visitation among the 26 victims killed by adam lanza on friday and all this time investigators are still working diligently to retrieve any kind of data they can find from the killer's computer. he smashed it to bits before he went on his shooting rampage. they are still trying to get what they can. as the white house and congress grapple with the politics of gun control, and that raging debate, and as newtown, connecticut grapples with the reality of the gun violence, we are seeing an unintended consequence perhaps of this, a spike in gun sales. here is david mattingly. >> almost 1,000 miles away from newtown, connecticut gun owners rush to buy more guns. >> why today? >> i was looking for a gun that i wanted for a long time and just wanted to get it before
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possible changes. >> at this gun shop and firing range north of atlanta, already brisk holiday sales have suddenly bumped up even more. customers fearing future gun restrictions from congress are looking to buy now. >> me and my brother collect weapons and we have plenty of handguns and shotguns and only one assault rifle. with all the new talk of new legislation going onto assault rifles, i really -- i definitely want to get a few more before something may happen. >> what's the largest clip you can put in there? >> gun collector rudy orlando is specifically looking to buy the ar 15, the semiautomatic rifle similar to the one used in connecticut and he is not alone. demand for the weapon here is driving $1,000 price tag. >> all the prices are really high. they're really high on these guns right now. they're not going to budget on the prices because they're going to be sold. >> are you going to buy anyway?
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>> i probably will. >> a recent spike in sales reported in stores across the country add emphasis so what is already a record sales year in the u.s. last year the fbi conducted a record 16 million 450,000 background checks and this year the total so far is over 16,800,000, and that doesn't include the month of december. future legislation could affect availability of certain semiautomatic weapons, features on the guns, and the magazines that hold large numbers of rounds. without specifics store president tom dietz says any gun owner could feel vulnerable. >> how it will be implemented, will the existing rifles in the marketplace be legal or would they go across the board and make everything that people have previously purchased illegal? >> the uncertainty bothers non-gun owners as well. brandon ward is a first time gun
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buyer worried about protecting his family. why now? why today so soon after the shootin shootings? >> because i am worried the government is going to put so much regulation on being able to do this, come future months, that it is not going to be an option for me. >> industry analysts see this as a possible peak to the sales growth that began when the election of president obama four years ago. u.s. kbun sales totaled $2.5 billion in 2008. this year that figure could top 3.5 billion. these latest sales were not entirely unanticipated, ashlee. we saw after the shootings in aurora, colorado, there was a 43% jump the following week in the state of colorado for background checks. this following an unfortunate pattern. >> david mattingly, thank you. appreciate that. coming up after david's report we'll turn the corner somewhat. as newtown is trying to get over
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what it is dealing with, and it probably never will get over it, there are other voices around the country saying things that may not resonate so well like god may have been too much of a gentleman to prevent the killing of those children. imagine that actually being said. we'll talk about that and the role of faith in all of this. i have a cold, and i took nyquil,
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not just in newtown but across the country people are finding ways, personal, public, to show they're heart broken over this, it is not just a local story, it is our story. there is just truly so much sorrow in all of this and the
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question that keeps coming up, where was god? how could he have let this happen? some had use this had question to make political points like former arkansas governor mike huckabee who suggested that the children in newtown died because god has been removed from our schools. have a listen. >> we ask why there is violence in our schools and we systematically removed god from our schools. should we be so surprised schools would become a place of carnage? maybe we ought to let him in on the front end and we wouldn't have to call to show up when it is all said and done at the back end. >> it may be hard for some people to think that, but rabbi, i think you will process that for me and put it into perspective if you don't know the rabbi, the good man, he has a new book fed up, men of faith challenging god in the face of tragedy and suffering coming out next month. >> it is. >> how do i handle a comment like this that we have taken god out of schools and what should
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we expect? >> i like governor huckabee. >> as do i. let me say right now, i like that man, i do not like hearing that. >> let's put everything in perspective here. you have 20 murdered children, killed in the most brutal monstrous fashion, and instead of giving the parents true comfort and saying to them that their child's life was of infinite value. we're blaming the victims. had we not made a war on god, maybe your child would still be alive. >> taking it out on innocent kids, this is remarkable. >> i find it so interesting that they logic logic we want to let god off the hook. we are the one that is removed god. on the contrary. got is all powerful. where is he when the tragedies happen? i believe in a theology of defines we make demands of god and he expects us to safe guard the innocence of children and he safeguards the innocence of children. no doubt he is bound by the same rules and laws that he gives us. this whole thing that tragedy results from sin, american sin, we heard this after 9/11 that
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because of homosexuality or abortion god allowed osama bin laden to attack us. come on, these are 20 innocent kids. for god's sake, leave them alone. >> for god's sake, that's it. i am looking forward to your book coming out. when i read about t the fact that you believe we should be holding god account i believe, i did a double take. what do you mean? are we supposed to question god? we're not brought up to question god. you're saying we need to. >> isn't that amazing we lost the theological condition of challenging god? the greatest act of faith is to make commands of god t means you believe he controls the world and capable of protecting the innocent and if he can split the red sea he can ensure that adam lanza is hit by a truck on the way to school so he can't perpetrate the action. the word israel literally translates as he who challenges god. if you look at the great stories of the bible, god says to
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abraham i will destroy sodom and gomorrah, but you are the god of the whole worth. we're supposed to be in a partnership with god. we're not supposed to defend tragedy and blame ourselves. >> when with you say a partnership with god, i want to bring up brian fisher. brian fisher with the american family association said these words, and i am going to quote him word with for word. you may have to read it twice. you know the question's going to come up where was god? i thought god cared about the little children, god protected the little children. where was god when all of this went down? and here's the bottom line. god is not going to go where he is not wanted. we've kicked god out of our public school system, and i think god would say to us, hey, i'll be glad to protect your children but you've got to invite me back into your world first. i'm not going to go where i am not wanted. i am a gentleman.
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god is a gentleman. thus will not save 20 children until we invite him back into the public school system? how can people get away with this kind of thing? >> because we allowed him. to it is the ultimate statement of hericy. >> he is the head of the american family association. >> just because they claim religion doesn't mean they are. not only is he wrong we kicked god out of our lives, the united states, the american people are the most righteous people in the world. we spent endless blood and trechry to prevent women beaten up by the taliban. our soldiers died for those money. we give more charity than any nation on earth. we deserve better. i am tired of people saying we deserve to suffer and kicked god out. this is the most religious country in the western world. >> then why did god do it? if it is time for us to challenge god, why did he do it. >> that's the thing. let's say i gave you the most brilliant eloquent response and i explained why 20 kids had to
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be shot multiple times by high-powered assault rifles. would you suddenly say that explains it? the tragedy would still be there. we at the present time not to up that. we don't want god as a comforter. we want god as presenter. he is supposed to protect us. we have to have a new approach to religion where we're not just cosmic to always surrender and we have a right to challenge god's will. that's real religion. >> we challenged it before after 9/11, columbine, virginia tech, aurora, and we never get any satisfaction. >> well, we have to be in a partnership with god and he has to do his role and you can't let him off the hook. we have to do our role. there has to be a robust conversation about gun laws. whatever your opinion is, we have to be courageous enough to have the conversation. we have to have a serious conversation about the culture in which our children are immersed. i let my kids play video game doesn't make me happy to see that. is that the worst thing in the world? i am not making conclusions.
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i am saying we're not so cowardly as to avoid the issues and only act upon them when tragedy strikes. we're an intelligent nation and have to look at what's happening. by the way, for me one of the biggest issues today is how angry american men are becoming. these are men, and i think we have a single definition of success that is alienating a lot of men, making them feel like they're failures and taking up the rage against the society they feel belittles them. >> that's a whole conversation we will have another time well. it is always good to see you. >> really good it see you. >> i enjoy your perspective and you make me feel more calm even in the wake of horrible things we end up together. >> even though i am trying to make you more defiant. >> thank you. i know you're headed up to newtown as well. >> i am, yes. >> after we speak. we are going to take a slight break. don't forget the fed-up man of faith, challenging god in the face of tragedy and suffering is the rabbi's book and releases on january 7th. people have doubts about taking aspirin for pain.
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an independent panel is out with a scathing report on the state department's role in the benghazi attacks. it was grossly inadequate to deal with the attack this year. that attack killed our ambassador chris stevens and three other americans serving with him. the state department ignored repeated requests for more security personnel and another revelation and there was a lack of transparency, responsiveness and leadership at the senior levels in washington, tripoli, and benghazi. in a letter to congress
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secretary of state hillary clinton said she accepted every one of the panel's 24 recommendations. elise joins us from the state department. first of all, elise, characterize this for me. were we expecting this to be as scathing and then again give us a feel for who this panel is and how independent it is. >> ashleigh, i read a lot of these reports in my many years of covering the state department, and it is pretty scathing. i think we expected an honest assessment, a tough assessment, and it was really kind of extremely critical, not only of the state department as a whole but specific bureaus and in talking about this systemic value of senior leadership problems that basically failed not only to protect the consulate in benghazi but also failed to see the warning signs of this very deteriorating situation in benghazi that was really a brewing hot bed of islamic activity.
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ambassador thomas pickering, admiral mike mullen and the other people that were on this independent panel, really the kind of top notch people that you would want to conduct this type of investigation, they interviewed hundreds of witnesses, went through thousands of documents, videos, and i think that given everything that they put together, this is really as tough as it could possibly be, ashleigh. >> let me ask you this. in the ten or and the tone of the report and maybe in the direct language of the report, elise, did this suggest that this was ineptitude or recklessness on the part of the state department? >> well, i think it might be somewhere in the middle. i mean, certainly these officials kind of missed the warning signs and also failed to coordinate amongst each other, and also didn't have a sense of who was doing what, but i think at the end of the day it is not only a bit of incompetence but this whole culture of no, which
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we saw some security officials found when they got their security requests rejected. also has to do with budget resources. congress here, there is a shrinking of pot of money that the state department has had for protecting u.s. consulates and facilities overseas and there is never enough money and this was a very small facility, and very few personnel and i think the state department thought it could get by doing more with less which is often the case. this report is very critical of congress saying it needs to put up the money to make sure that these facilities have adequate protection. >> and the secretary is saying she would accept all 24 of the recommendations. elise, thank you for that. i want to add one more note. that is that officials say that the panel didn't take up one very specific issue, and that's the possible limitations that the u.s. military command that's responsible for the very large area in north africa, like libya and the middle east, the limitations that command actually has. [ male announcer ] truth is, nyquil doesn't unstuff your nose. what?
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evan most is a boy that seemingly only cares about one simple thing. >> all of these filled with pokemon cards. >> unfortunately his life isn't
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so simple. >> when e an was just a couple weeks old he started having little shaky movements. it was one arm that would twitch a little bit and just last a few seconds >> robert and lisa took their son to dozens of doctor's appointments and evan was eventually diagnosed with tube us are ask her closes complex, a rare genetic disease that causes non-malignant tumors to grow inside the brain and other vital organs. his tsc includes one of the hallmark symptoms, potentially life threat ebbeni-threatening . since they can't watch over him all the them they looked for an extra set of eyes, ears and a nose. >> we wanted found out the dogs respond to seizures. >> good dog. >> that they had the capability to alert you, to tell you that the individual may have a seizure or may soon be having a seizure. >> as you might imagine, these types of highly trained service
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dogs, dog that is can literally sniff out chemical changes in the body leading up to a seizure don't come cheap. >> a service dog generally costs anywhere from 22 to $25,000. they ask for each recipient family to fund raise 13,000 of that to offset the costs. as part of the application they ask for something from the child receiving the dog. he said can i write a book? >> my seizure dog. by me. i get a seizure dog to help me when i have a seizure. we will be best friends. >> let me try something. >> his big sister suggested the parents self publish evan's book on amazon where it quickly shot to the best seller list and a book signing followed at a neighborhood coffee shop. the turnout was overwhelming. >> we did end up raising around
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$45,000 and helped about seven additional children complete their fundraising. >> come on. come up. >> mindy rarely leaves evan's side during the day, at school, on the bus, in the backyard. never leaves his side at night. >> the seizure dog will sleep with me. if i have a seizure during my sleep, the seizure dog will tell me parents. >> mindy moss, family pet, parent's security blanket and evan's best friend. sanjay gupta, cnn reporting. questions?
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long before the unspeakable acts in newtown guns were what the pundits called a wedge issue in america, people who could talk with open minds about things like abortion, global warming and in the middle east holding very strong opinions about guns and crime and constitutional rights, and if you caught our piers morgan this week or really ever for that matter, you know that he is very, very passionate. he is an uber supporter of gun restrictions and the slaughter in newtown hit hill hard and hardened his resolve as well. last night he was interviewing larry pratt, and i want to play one moment of their conversation, just so you can see the tenor of how this
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conversation is starting to play out. >> america is not the wild west that you are depicting. we only have the problem in our cities and unhappily in our schools where people like you have been able to get laws put on the books that keep people from being able to defend themselves. i honestly don't understand why you would rather have people be victims of a crime than be able to defend themselves. it is incomprehensible. >> you're an unbelievably stupid man, aren't you? >> it seems to me you're morally object ob toous and team to prefer to be a victim than being able to prevail over the criminal element. i don't want why you want to be the criminal's friend. >> what a ridiculous argument. have you no coherent argument whatsoever. you don't -- >> you have no -- >> you don't give a damn about the gun murder rate in america. you don't care. >> seems to me -- >> what you would like to see, let's go through this.
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>> they bounce right off of you. >> okay. that's not just happening on television. that is happening across the country. so consider it a back drop to an effort that's getting under way in washington, d.c. to try to effect something constructive about guns and the violence that's just so pervasive in this country. i think it is a little too soon to declare the newtown killings are really a certain turning point, but it truly does seem to be a moment in which historic change is possible and as we have reported president obama is about to introduce a government wide gun policy review headed by vice president biden. we're short on details right now. we are going to get them and soon. joining me now to lend their expertise and insight are wolf blitzer and dana bash and jeffrey toobin here in new york. i also want to welcome viewers joining us around the world on cnn international. wolf, start off for me if you will. what exactly is president obama trying to do here or is this
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going to be a work in progress? >> he prom i guessed the other night when he was in newtown and you were there and i was there and he promised the memorial service, that interfaith service he was going to use all the power of his office, as second term president, to make sure to try to do whatever he can to make sure it doesn't happen again. i suspect it will even though there will be some action taken, action involving image sure he wants stricter gun control in the united states and better action dealing with mental health issues because the country has really been der elict and hasn't done much during the first term and i think he wants to move forward in both of the areas now. a lot going on and he came in and the country was near not only in recession and almost near a depression the worst economic situation in 60 years or so, so he had a lot going on and i think now he has really been traumatized like so many of us have been by what he saw up
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there, what the horrendous nature, and he wants to learn lessons, and i think that's why he is asking joe biden and other experts to come up with a plan and come up with specific legislation that's doable and might be passable and try to do whatever he can to make sure it doesn't happen again. that's what he promised the american people he would do. let's see if he can deliver. >> i am curious to find out if it will be something as sweeping as perhaps a new government agency like "homeland" security. that was born of the crisis in 9/11 and here we are in a crisis that many people have equated to 9/11, certainly not in its scope, but in its feeling, the people's reaction to what happened in newtown is earily similar, this numbness that people couldn't describe or characterize, a template that hadn't been written before. with that in mine, dana bash, is that possible? is this something that may be bandied about, the possibility
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of a whole new agency in government as a time when we don't have money for the agency that is exist? >> i think with regard to a new agency, it is not so much just money, it is philosophy. i think where we are right now in these political times, it is very unlikely for both sides to come together and say it is time to expand the government. right now the political atmosphere is the opposite. everybody is trying to shrink government. even democrats think it is important. there is a very real possibility, more than we have seen maybe in the past 10, 15 years, of using the current government wheels, whether it is just the basic legislation here in congress to act. what that action is, that is definitely still a big question mark. we know that senator diane feinstein, actually going to be in the next congress, the chairman of the judiciary committee and will have jurisdiction, she is pushing to revive the assault weapons ban
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and told me she is she open to talking to people that have been for gun rights and the fact we haven't heard very much at all from many republicans and even some democrats or are vehemently in favor of gun rights is very, very telling and part it is because of the rawness of the situation and just like the nra said in the statement that it is not right to say anything right now, but i think it also is in part because of this incident did shift opinions, whether it is not to actually change the law, that's a different question. >> it may be raw now, but you and i know all too well that it is not going to be too raw soon enough, and then the intransigence we're seeing on the fiscal cliff is a perfect example how we can probably expect there will be intransigence on these issues as well, and i think when you say a change of philosophy, i am curious to find out if the change of philosophy might mean reorganizing agencies because homeland security was a reorganization of existing agencies into something entirely
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different. i don't know how much of an expansion it was compared to reorganization. is that something that we might see that does encompass all of the other issues being discussed right now, whether it is the assault weapons ban, gun control, violence in movies and gaming and mental health issues, school security, all of those things? >> sure. anything is possible, ashleigh. i think the fact the president is tapping joe biden who has such extensive experience in government, decades and decades in the senate, who knows how to reach across party lines and even on issues that are so divisive like this, the other thing we should keep in mind i am sorry to say is raw politics and the fact is that looking ahead to the next election, people already doing that, there are about half a daz conservative democrats up for re-election who are simply keeping mum on the question of whether they would go for any new gun restrictions. i have to tell you, i pretty much almost chased one into the
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bathroom yesterday trying to get an answer and they don't want to talk about it. so when emotions become less raw, that's the other thing. it is easier for the politics to surface and it may hurt chances for people that want more gun control to see that succeed. >> i want to bring in jeffrey toobin on that. you immediately reacted to that. >> you're talking about a new agency. there is a law enforcement agency called the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms. it has been systematically starved by congress because the nra doesn't like the batf. it doesn't even have a full time confirmed leader. it is a firearms agency. the power of the nra is such in congress that they have essentially written this agency out of the book. >> when i talk about a new agency or this new initiative, is it just about guns or a far greater issue that everybody wants to put a piece in. >> sure. there are lots of moving parts
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here. obviously mental health is an enormous part. the federal government doesn't have a lot to do with mental health. mostly state issues. they can give money. they can give money to the states for sorts of things and they don't control issues of who gets institutionalized and who gets deinstitutionalized and what narcotics or what kind of medicine can be used on people, so color me very skeptical. as dana point out, there is not a lot of political will here among vulnerable democrats and they're the ones who will make the difference and the republican party is already completely aligned. >> let me talk to you about the supreme court and the second amendment and some of the, well, the restrictions on what government can do because of what the supreme court has done, and i want to read the second amendment so everybody is very clear on the grammar. i am always very frustrated by the commas and the clauses and let me read specifically and put
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it up on the screen so the viewers are clear. it may give you insight. it may not. listen carefully. a well-regulated militia, comma, being necessary to the security of a free state, comma, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. and, jeffrey, i heard you say earlier that for 100 years that meant state militia. >> right. it meant that state militias that basically what became state police, they have the right to bear arms, but as of 2008, the united states supreme courts said no, it is individuals, basically the second clause now trumps the first clause instead of the first clause trumping the second clause, and so now the supreme court said there is an individual right to keep and bear arms. now, how far that right extends is not clear. the court has not really elaborated on that yet.
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in addition to political obstacles to gun control, there are no legal obstacles to gun control and we have to see how those play into this as well. >> wolf blitzer, that is not lost on our lawmakers right now. there are legal restrictions and confines through which they need to operate. >> they need to work through this and at some point the supreme court probably will get back involved if there is more legislation, new legislation, how far does it go? does it withstand the language of the second amendment to the u.s. constitution? ashleigh, what i am looking forward to is hearing from the president now. he is creating this new commission to deal with the issue in the aftermath of what happened in newtown, and some of the other incidents that have occurred while he has been president, whether in colorado or wisconsin or elsewhere. i am interested, how long of a deadline will joe biden and company have? when will their recommendations be coming forward? i want to hear, is it going to be a matter of weeks? is it going to be a matter of months? over the years, and i have been
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in washington for a long time, whenever a president wants to deal with something but he is not ready to deal with it, he creates a commission and effectively punts the ball down the road because that's a good way of pretending you're doing something and not really doing anything and i remember recently the fiscal kries crisis we had and the bowles-simpson commission were going to come up with plans to deal with the deficit and the long-term debt reduction, spending, and all of that and they came up with a plan and hasn't worked out that great. we're in the middle of a fiscal cliff crisis now. i want to see specifics. i want to see what the president announces, who will be on the commission, how long do they have, what's the mandate, what are the recommendations? or is this just going to be more talk, talk, talk, and not enough action, action, action? >> and speaking of action, wolf, you and i have covered enough of these things over the years to know there is great criticism when gun control comes up and the debate of it comes up in the
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immediate aftermath of a shooting. it feels different this time. the polling across the nation immediately afterwards showed a seismic shift it seemed in how people felt and the majority of americans felt that tighter gun controls were needed post what happened in newtown. some say that's political opportunists taking advantage of a situation. others say this is politics as it should be, reacting to their constituents. how are you feeling this in washington? >> there is a huge debate in washington, and there has been ever since i have come to washington there has been a huge debate over guns, and gun control and assault weapons bans and background checks and gun shows and i have been hearing this debate for years and it is a debate that tnlz to resonate now and people feel very strongly on both sides and on the one hand people say less guns, that's better, and the other hand people want to have self protection and be able to protect themselves in their homes and be able to protect their families and so they want
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guns and this debate will go on. i am not saying i have the answers and i am not saying there are easy answers to this debate. in the immediate aftermath of a disaster like we just saw, i suspect that the debate will intensify at least in the short-term before we move onto something else. >> and dana bash, if you could weigh in on that as well. wolf alluded to the idea, the who, the why, the mandate, and all of these things that will be critical, maybe clues as to just how much teeth any initiative may have. are you getting any early word on any of these questions? >> not quite yet. i think that one of the most important things that wolf just point out was the time, and that many times when a president calls for an interagency commission or panel, it does kick the can down the road and in the political times we're in now, that can't happen. we just had an election. as i mention the, the next election when it comes to congress is just two years away which in political terms as far
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as the people who are up are concerned is tomorrow, so the window is very, very small, not just because the will probably won't be there as people's emotions subside but aultz because of the political calendar and it is crucial for people who do want to get more gun control laws on the books and that has to be taken into consideration, and people who here in congress, particularly joe biden, who spent decades here in congress gets that. >> our white house correspondent brianna keye ler is joining us just outside the briefing room. you see the empty podium. we're waiting for the president and the vice president to tell us what they mean. this is cobbled together fairly quickly. nobody expected what happened this week. what do you know about how they've been able to manage and put together whatever they're going to announce to us? >> what we know and i think we got a preview on how the president want wants to approach in in a bit of a comprehensive way. a couple days ago he met with members of the cabinet.
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this included attorney general eric holder, headlight and human services director kathleen sebelius and aroune duncan. we also heard yesterday in the briefing from jay carney, the first time that the white house put out some specifics about some things that the president would pursue, that he would support senator dianne feinstein's efforts to reinstate the assault weapons ban, he would want to tackle high count ammunition clips as well as close the gun loophole. he's hintedle as we as well in remarks in newtown tackling the issue of mental health as well. the white house wants to look at this comprehensively, and that's some of what we expect to hear today here in the briefing room. the thing is we're not expecting a whole lot of specifics, and that is something as you have been talking about is very frustrating to gun control
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advocates who say they want to hear specifics, who say the time is now, and it seems the sense from the white house is that they want to wait. some democrats definitely say that this is a gamble because as we know, there is a bit of a rhythm to events like this where people become less concerned with it. what we've been hearing from the white house is they think that's not the case, that because this is something so exceptional as jay carney put it, because children were involved that there is an appetite far beyond to deal with this. >> speaking of that, you mentioned arne duncan. the secretary of education is also en route to newtown, connecticut. apparently he will be involved in some way either at the viewing or the funeral for the principal who was killed. the principal of sandy hook elementary dawn hochsprung. her funeral is tomorrow, and it's not taking place in connecticut. i'm not sure if he's part of the viewing or move on from connecticut to new york for the funeral. that has just crossed our wires.
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i want to bring in candy crowley. candy, you heard brianna characterize this as an unprecedented initiative. i want a feeling from you as i said cobbling together in a hurried way. we're only five, six days since this incident. how much can be done, and how much is a work in progress? >> well, the president can do some things through executive order, through directing agencies to pay attention to certain specific things. we all know there are laws enforced and other laws where there's not the personnel to go after it. i spoke with carol mccarthy. her husband was killed the on the subway many years ago. she became an activist and came it to congress. i was talking to her, and she said listen there are laws that have been passed that aren't funded. it has to do with background checks that include mental health. so there are things that can be done now, should they be deemed
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worthy of doing that that can be funded. actions are out there. but then if you're talking about legislation, if you're talking about an assault weapons ban, i think that you will see in congress particularly in the senate a lot of times laws done in haste have those unintended consequences. so the fact that they may take their time to make major changes i don't think is necessarily a bad thing. certainly getting it rolling and having somebody like the vice president behind it and kind of running this panel, i think, does put some urgency to it. but there are things you can do tomorrow, and there are things that are going to take some time. unfortunately for those who want gun control this second, that's about legislation and that, as we all know, takes some time. >> sure. and, of course, we know just what up happens with legislation now with our extremely bipolarized senate and congress. wolf blitzer, i want it to bring
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you in quickly. candy mentioned the unintended consequences of hasty legislation and initiatives. i wanted to get your feel on that. >> she's right. sometimes, you know, you have to be careful and cautious and deal diligently with these kinds of very sensitive issues because sometimes can be unintended consequences of hastily organized legislation. you're not sure what you get. i think the president is doing the right thing. let him come up with a specific plan to deal with this. let him use the bully pulpit of re-elected president in the second term. he can't get re-elected a third time. he has to worry about his legacy and his record. what will he leave and accomplish during the second term? this is an area where i know he feels strongly, especially in the aftermath of what he saw over the weekend when he went to newtown, connecticut. i think he's passionate about it. yes, he's got a lot of other issues on his agenda, but i suspect he wants to push on this. if he can't do the legislation,
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he's got plenty of opportunities as candy said to do it unilaterally through executive action or orders. he's got that power. he's the president of the united states, and he can do a whole bunch of things without congress if he really wants to. >> and i mentioned it off the top of our conversation just the tendency for those to politicize tragedy and the criticism that comes in the aftermath of tragedy for those who politicize. there's this other notion that this could be a turning point for the nation, and how much of what is being done right now is being down because we're capitalizing as a government on how the nation feels immediately, how much is being done because this is the only time it could be done politically. >> the emotions are really raw right now for everyone who was watching what was going on over these last few days. the emotions are very intense. we've just seen in this country
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20 little children, first graders, six and seven years old gunned down for no reason whatsoever in a brutal, brutal way. the face of this investigation, lieutenant paul vance of the connecticut state police, told me yesterday each kid wasn't shot once or twice, shot multiple times, as were the six educators as well. the emotions are raw. this is a moment that the country is ready to do something, and now the debate will intensify. if it's not done now, i suspect it's not going to be done. >> wolf, i want to take an opportunity to squeeze in a quick break. we don't want to miss anything the president or vice president has to say. we'll be back in just a few moments.
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oh, let me guess --ou see this? more washington gridlock. no, it's worse -- look, our taxes are about to go up. not the taxes on our dividends though, right? that's a big part of our retirement. oh, no, it's dividends, too. the rate on our dividends would more than double. but we depend on our dividends to help pay our bills. we worked hard to save.
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well, the president and congress have got to work together to stop this dividend tax hike. before it's too late. when you give a child a toy, it has to work. ♪ make just one someone happy and when it's a toys for tots child, well, what could be more important? so this year, every hasbro toy donated to toys for tots will be powered by duracell. happy holidays. duracell with duralock. trusted everywhere. i want to welcome our international viewers from around the world as we stand by live on this developing story. this is the white house briefing room, and we're waiting for the president of the uniteat


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